Ballpark Roadtrip: Braves Field
Located one mile west of Fenway Park, construction began March 20, 1915 and was completed five months later when the Braves played the St. Louis Cardinals on August 18, 1915. (Photo: Gordon Donovan)
Braves Field was home of the Boston Braves of the National League from 1915 to 1952, prior to the Braves' move to Milwaukee in 1953. Today the site is home to Nickerson Field on the campus of Boston University. Located on Commonwealth Avenue at Babcock Street, the baseball field was aligned northeast, much as Fenway Park has been since it opened in April 1912.
Before the Braves became the first modern-era franchise to relocate, in 1952, the Boston Braves franchise had been in Boston since 1871. Before Braves Field, the franchise had played at South End Grounds, with play at Congress Street Grounds in 1894 while South End Grounds was rebuilt following the May 15, 1894 Roxbury Fire.
Shortly after the Boston Red Sox opened Fenway Park, Braves owner James Gaffney purchased the former Allston Golf Club, one mile west of Fenway Park to build a new park for the Braves. Construction of the $600,000 Braves Field began on March 20, 1915 and was completed before the end of the 1915 season.
The park was constructed entirely of steel (approx 750 tons) and an estimated 8 million pounds (3,600,000 kg) of concrete. Braves Field officially opened on August 18, 1915 with 46,000 in attendance to see the Braves defeat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-1. Braves Park was the largest stadium built in that era, with 40,000 capacity and a trolley system leading to the park.
From 1929 to 1932, the Boston Red Sox played select regular season games periodically at Braves Field. On May 1, 1920, Braves Field hosted the longest major league baseball game in history – 26 innings, which eventually ended in a 1–1 tie.
The stadium hosted the 1936 Major League Baseball All-Star Game and Braves home games during the 1948 World Series. The Boston Red Sox used Braves Field for their home games in the 1915 and 1916 World Series since the stadium had a larger seating capacity than Fenway Park. Braves Field was the site of Babe Ruth's final season, playing for the Braves in 1935.
After purchasing the Braves from Bob Quinn in 1945, owner Lou Perini, citing low attendance, moved the Braves to Milwaukee just prior to the 1953 season, leaving Braves Field vacant. The Braves had drawn fewer than 300,000 fans in 1952, after drawing over 1 million in 1947, 1948, and 1949. Milwaukee had been the site of the Braves' Minor League team, the Milwaukee Brewers, and the Braves had earlier blocked an attempt by the St. Louis Browns to move to Milwaukee.
After the Braves moved to Milwaukee in 1953, the Braves Field site was sold to Boston University and reconstructed. It has become home to many Boston University teams. Most of the stadium was demolished in 1955, but significant portions of the original structure still stand and make up part of the Nickerson Field sports complex on the campus of Boston University.
Ballpark Facts and History
Braves Field was nicknamed The Wigwam by fans. Later it was nicknamed The Bee Hive and the name changed to National League Park, from 1936–1941, a period during which the owners changed the nickname of the team to the Boston Bees.
On Saturday, May 1, 1920, at Braves Field, the Braves and Brooklyn Robins played 26 complete innings in a game that ended in a 1–1 tie, called due to darkness by home plate umpire Barry McCormick. It is the longest game, by innings, in Major League history.
Starting pitchers Leon Cadore (Brooklyn) and Joe Oeschger (Boston) both pitched the entire game in front of 4,500 fans. The 26 innings by both pitchers is also a record, and it is conservatively estimated that each threw at least 300 pitches. Oeschager threw 21 consecutive scoreless innings in the game, Cadore threw 20. Second baseman Charlie Pick of the Braves went 0–11, the worst single day at the plate in MLB history. Cadore faced 95 Braves hitters, while Oeschager faced 90 hitters.
Brooklyn and the Braves met again on Monday, May 3, after an off-day for the Braves. That game lasted another 19 innings, a 2–1 Boston win. In between, on Sunday, May 2, Brooklyn played at home against Philadelphia (a 4–3 Brooklyn win) in a game that went 13 innings.This gave Brooklyn 58 innings played in three days and three games.
On Sunday, September 21, 1952, the Brooklyn Dodgers defeated the Braves, 8–2, before 8,822 fans in the final Major League game at Braves Field. Roy Campanella hit the last home run to help Joe Black defeat a Braves team with 20 year-old rookie Eddie Mathews hitting 3rd.
The Braves Field scoreboard was sold to the Kansas City A's and used at Municipal Stadium until the A's moved to Oakland in 1967.
Photos taken September 17, 2009 using a Canon EOS 50D Digital SLR with a EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Standard Zoom Lens.